The Prophet Isaiah in his rebuke to the nation's leaders states, "Your princes are rebellious and companions of thieves. Each one loves bribes and pursues rewards." (Isaiah 1:23)

In his words of comfort that follow, he promises, "I will restore your judges as at first, and your counselors as at the beginning. Afterwards you shall be called 'the city of righteousness, the faithful city'. Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return of her with righteousness." (Ibid., verses 26-27)

This prophecy is alluded to in our daily prayer, "Restore our judges as at first, and our counselors as at the beginning." (Shemoneh Esreh) We hope that by such means, G-d will "remove from us sorrow and sighing." (Ibid.)

Three traits are required of the king or the political leader in order that he rule over the people properly, and that the people feel confident and calm with him as ruler:

1. He has to be an idealist, and he should have no vested interests in his political decisions;

2. He has to be wise and understanding; and

3. He has to be accepted and beloved by his people.

Regarding the leader whose decisions are motivated by private interests, the Torah states clearly, "Do not take bribes, since bribery makes the wise blind and perverts the words of the righteous." (Deuteronomy 16:19) Whoever loves bribes and rewards forfeits his wisdom. It is true that our sages said, "Who is wise? He who has foresight." (Avot 2:12) Yet the wise man who takes bribes is no longer wise, and no longer has foresight. He is already like the blind man tottering on the precipice. He is in mortal danger.

Today, the grave accusations of the legal system against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his sons about their having taken large bribes should rob the sleep of every citizen in our country. It matters not whether he is right-wing or left-wing in his outlook, religious or irreligious, Jew or gentile. Sharon has to remove from himself and his family even the least taint of bribery and kickbacks, and it is his national, governmental and moral duty to step down from his position until matters are satisfactorily clarified. Let him not be the fulfillment of Isaiah's words about "loving bribes and pursuing rewards."

Every decision, be it political, economic or social, of a person who took bribes is certainly erroneous and dangerous. As the Torah warns us, bribery blinds the wise. How much more this is so regarding fateful decisions about the security and well-being of our country. Such decisions present a real danger to the unity of the nation. These are decisions that encourage terror and encourage Israel's enemies, who view the Disengagement Plan as retreat, withdrawal and surrender. These decisions weaken the state from an international perspective as well, and cause an increase in worldwide anti-Semitism.

As a citizen from the rank-and-file, I hereby petition Prime Minister Sharon: Please, for the good of the nation, for the good of the State, and for your own good, as well - step down from your position. If you do so, it will remove sorrow and sighing. Then, "Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and they that return of her with righteousness."